Health Care and Lakeshore

Ludington hospital becomes Spectrum Health Ludington Oct. 1

Spectrum Health System to invest $52 million in Ludington over the next 10 years.

September 6, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Spectrum Ludington merger
Al Deering, left, board chair at Memorial Medical Center, and Spectrum Health CEO and President Richard Breon sign the affiliation documents. Courtesy Spectrum Health

The Spectrum Health System board of directors and the directors of Ludington’s Memorial Medical Center have approved the integration of MMC into the Spectrum Health System effective Oct. 1, with the new name being Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital.

As part of the affiliation agreement, Spectrum Health will provide $6 million for health care initiatives to benefit the Ludington community and the hospital. In addition, Spectrum Health is making a capital commitment of $46 million to Memorial Medical Center over 10 years for upgrades and to assist in physician recruitment.

The chair of the MMC board said the board will continue to have local control over the hospital’s day-to-day operations.

MMC signed a non-binding letter of intent in May to join Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids. MMC said then the letter “establishes that MMC will work exclusively with Spectrum Health to develop a definitive agreement.”

MMC, an 87-bed acute care hospital with a family health clinic in Hart, acknowledged last October it was looking for a “larger, integrated health care system” to partner with and had hired Juniper Advisory in Chicago to help it with a nationwide search. Al Deering, chairman of the MMC board, said then that the hospital’s finances were in good shape but that changes in health care were driving consolidations and board members decided they ought to look into it.

The MMC board considered 27 health care systems and reached a unanimous conclusion that Spectrum Health’s proposal best met the MMC objectives.

“Spectrum Health has had an excellent working relationship with Memorial Medical Center for many years,” said Richard C. Breon, president and CEO of Spectrum Health. “This agreement allows us to build on that relationship and provide a broader, more coordinated array of services to the region.”

MMC president/CEO Mark Vipperman said joining Spectrum Health “creates the best possible health care scenario for the people we serve. With improved access to specialty care, assistance with physician recruitment, best practices in clinical quality and a willingness to make significant health care investments, the health care needs of the people in this part of West Michigan will be well-served for the foreseeable future.”

“The board is both pleased and excited that we were able to get this done. As the future of health care in our country and the future needs of our community became clear to us, we knew we needed to take the sort of action that would serve our constituents’ best interests in the long term,” said Deering.

“We think we’ve done that by deciding to join Spectrum Health,” he added. “We admire the people of Spectrum Health and their pursuit of excellence,” and the MMC board believes “we are culturally well-aligned” with Spectrum.

“We will still have local control over our day-to-day operations, meaning that the work we’ve been doing in the community will not only be supported, but encouraged. Spectrum Health’s willingness to provide $6 million to the MMC Foundation for health care initiatives to benefit the Ludington community illustrates this fact,” said Deering.

Under the terms of the affiliation, Spectrum Health will become the sole corporate member of MMC, and the MMC employees will become Spectrum Health employees.

When the plans to integrate with Spectrum were announced in May, Deering said “the rapidly changing health care industry” played a role, and while MMC was in a “strong financial position,” it was “the best time to position our hospital to meet the challenges facing the health care sector of our national economy.”

“Without a partnership we would be much more vulnerable to regulatory changes and evolving market forces, and our future would become increasingly uncertain,” Deering said then.

MMC has 575 employees in Ludington. The hospital recently opened a major expansion, including an all-new emergency department, expanded surgery department, and new main entrance and lobby.

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